Case Studies

Economic Development Transition Initiative Southwestern PA


Allegheny County

The Hill Group's Role

  • Initiative Development
  • Initiative Implementation
  • Group Facilitation
  • Market Research
  • Survey Design
  • Data Analysis
  • Strategy Formulation


  • Largest transition of metro area in U.S. history
  • More than 200 ideas generated
  • Harnessed over $2.5 million in volunteer, professional service assistance

Allegheny County underwent the largest transition effort of a metropolitan region in the history of the United States in 2000. Given this change, Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey called upon The Hill Group, Inc. to design and implement an economic development initiative – The New Idea Factory (NIF) – that would harness the ideas of area professionals to guide the economic policy of the new government.

In response, The Hill Group created and facilitated the work of 13 transition teams, helped to design implementation strategies, and provided a forum for discussion and feedback. Nearly 200 professionals participated in the transition teams and volunteered a total of more than 25,000 hours during a six-month period. Their volunteer contributions were valued at more than $2.5 million. Approximately half of the NIF volunteers were between the ages of 21 and 40.

The teams discussed a myriad of issues ranging for entrepreneurship and financial capital to public policy, technology, and outdoor amenities. The discussions generated more than 200 ideas including:
• Installing a wireless network in the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport enabling travelers to access the Internet directly from their laptop computers;
• Creating a high-speed fiber optic network to link every home, school, library,and business in the Pittsburgh region and make it easier for people to work from home;
• Developing a recognized brand identity for the Pittsburgh region through advertising and promotion; and
• Establishing a casual business and social club, unparalleled by any organization of its kind in the country, for the growing network of New Economy professionals.

Transition team representatives presented their work to a panel of key stakeholders from local businesses, foundations, and nonprofit organizations in June 2000 at the New Idea Marketplace. Concern citizens also were invited to participate. Several of the ideas have been implemented and many more are in the implementation process.